PERTH NATIVE DANIEL RICCIARDO, the young driver TMR has followed with keen interest in 2009, has become the first Australian to claim the British Formula 3 Championship in 20 years after clinching the title at Algarve in Portugal.
Ricciardo secured the championship with two races remaining after a characteristically strong weekend, finishing third in the first event before crossing the line seventh in the second despite lapping with a damaged front wing.
Although championship rival Walter Grubmuller was seemingly in contention to snatch the crown from Ricciardo?s grasp heading into the round, the Austrian had a horror weekend as he recorded one points finish to hand the 20-year-old one of motorsport?s most prestigious titles.
Ricciardo said he hoped the championship win would be his first steps towards securing a Formula 1 drive in the future, taking inspiration from 2008 winner Jaime Alguersuari.
He said: ?This is everything I've wanted since the start of the season and for it to come around a bit early makes it a bit sweeter.
?It still hasn't quite sunk in but I'm sure that by the end of tonight I'll realise it and party hard. If I can now follow in Jaime Alguersuari's footsteps that would be great - I'm not saying I'll be in F1 next year, but I'd like to be there in the near future. That's my dream.?
The Carlin Motorsport driver made a stunning start to the season, winning three of the first four races to establish an early advantage over his rivals.
However, after jumping out of the blocks, Ricciardo?s championship hopes soon began to stutter as he endured an eight race winless streak that allowed Grubmuller to make inroads on his lead.
Ricciardo maintained that he had complete faith in his ability to turn his form around despite the mid-season downturn.
?We had some bad rounds; Rockingham and Hockenheim weren't the best for us - that was where Hitech started coming on strong - but we never lost faith, kept believing and working hard for it,? he said."
Although it seems unlikely Ricciardo will make the switch to Formula 1 next year, with Kiwi Brendon Hartley believed to be higher in the Red Bull hierachy at this stage, F1 boss Christian Horner has been enthused by his progress.
Horner told Motorsport News: ?Dan is clearly doing a very good job in F3 and he?s done very well in the (F1) simulator work that he?s done with us already.
?We?ll keep an eye on how he does for the rest of the season and maybe give him a run out on a young driver day.?
Winning the British F3 championship will automatically earn Ricciardo an FIA super license, the mandatory accreditation required to compete in Formula 1, allowing him to overcome a potential future career hurdle.